President Donald Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty yesterday morning. The order, titled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” allows churches to speak about politics from the pulpit while keeping their tax-exempt status and it provides regulatory relief for ordinary Americans who don’t subscribe to gender ideology or believe in same-sex “marriage.”
However, religious liberty advocates say it does not go nearly far enough.
The Order was signed in the White House Rose Garden on the National Day of Prayer.
During his speech, the president called up to the stage the Little Sisters of the Poor who were forced under the Obama administration HHS Mandate to pay for contraceptives for their employees.
The President said that “for too long the federal government has used the power of the state as a weapon against people of faith, bullying and even punishing Americans for following their religious beliefs.”
“That is why I am signing today an Executive Order to defend the freedom of religion and speech in America, the freedoms that we’ve wanted the freedoms that you have fought for for so long,” he added.
A briefing of the Executive Order sent out by the White House earlier this week calls it a “policy” of the Trump administration to “protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.”
The briefing states that the Order will direct the IRS to “exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits religious leaders from speaking about politics and candidates from the pulpit.”
It also states that it will provide “regulatory relief for religious objectors to Obamacare’s burdensome preventive services mandate, a position supported by the Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby.”
But religious liberty advocates say the Executive Order does not go far enough and leaves Trump’s campaign promises “unfulfilled.”
Ryan T. Anderson of The Heritage Foundation called it “woefully inadequate.”
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor echoed this.
Baylor said the Order offers “no specific relief” for Christians in America who are daily threatened to have their businesses closed for holding a religious point of view on marriage that differs from that of the federal government.
He also said the Order’s direction of the IRS to exercise discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment is inadequate.
“Americans cannot rely on the discretion of IRS agents, some of whom have abused that discretion for years to silence pastors and intrude into America’s pulpits,” he said.
“Nor does the outline do anything to prevent a future, hostile administration from wielding its power to penalize any church who dares exercise its constitutionally protected freedoms in a manner that displeases those in authority. A legislative problem like the Johnson Amendment demands a legislative solution like the Free Speech Fairness Act,” he added.
Full story at LifeSiteNews.